I will admit, I’ve carried a great deal of righteous anger since the election. Anger, and sorrow.
It’s only been compounded by the complete horror show the confirmation hearings have become. To go from a cabinet so well-equipped to run their departments to such a collection of devotees of malfeasance is stomach turning.
Yesterday, I felt despair. I still do, I won’t lie. But something happened that has steeled my resolve to fight, to become a true ally – no accomplice – to those that will be facing much bigger fights than mine now that Donald Trump is going to be president.
See, I was looking for photos of the Obama family to change my Facebook and Twitter photos to, part of a small gesture of gratitude that many are doing this week. I came upon pictures of that night. The magical night in 2008 when all four members came out, beaming, as a tearful and excited nation watched them wave as President Obama addressed the nation and the crowd in Chicago.
Hope. Hope and change, Obama promised in his campaign. And he delivered. Was he always the president we hoped he would be? No. Guantanamo is still here, more immigrants than ever were deported, and it seemed impossible to get traction on some of the most egregious civil rights cases.
But he was a good, even great president that did good things. People had healthcare. Everyone? No, but not for lack of trying. Gay marriage happened, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He consoled us in the darkest of times, and celebrated with us in the best of times.
He was our president. Even if you didn’t want him to be your president, you still were the beneficiary of many of his policies that, in the dark of night now, you worry will be taken away from you by the Trump administration. Admit it – you’re thinking about how you’ll pay for your heart pills. You don’t know if you’ll be able to get coverage again because you’ve had cancer. Your kid in college getting a Masters that you’re so proud of – but who also has diabetes – may get kicked off your plan, and all that keeps you up at night. Your dad, who benefits from the Medicare donut hole being closed, will likely be forced to pay even more for his medications now – and he’s sicker now than he was eight years ago.
But that hope and change, remembering that feeling of that election night in 2008 as I tabbed through photos, made me realize that to stop insisting on equal rights for all because a naranja haired narcissist is in charge, to curl up and give up hope, is an assault – and a self-inflicted one. A selfish one.
I am pissed off as hell. But I am also aware that as a college-educated white woman, I will survive this next four years relatively unscathed. I am married. We have health insurance. We have a comfortable life. Yes, Tiny has needs that may be impacted, but I also have the ability to address them on my own if I have to.
Not everyone has this. Not everyone will be able to walk down the street without worry that stop and frisk will hold up their day – or result in their death. Not everyone will be able to take their child to school relatively worry free, because not everyone is documented. Not everyone has access to good health insurance, or any health insurance, and will grow sicker or will have to choose between necessary medicines and bare necessities.
I am aware that I will survive this because of my skin color, my birthplace, and my education. Two of those three things are nothing I did to attain. The third was made easier by the first two.
So on Inauguration Day, I’m engaging in both work and self-care. I’m on deadline, but I’m also studiously avoiding the news. My heart needs for my mind to avoid it. I will write, I will run errands, I will pick up Tiny from school, and we will have an ice cream date. I’ll have dinner with my husband, and watch The Wire (yes, I know I’m 200 years behind everyone else on this).
And I will hope that at the end of four years I am still able to look around and see the same faces I care about – both in person and virtually. I hope, in short, that we all survive.
And I will wake up Saturday morning, and know for a certainty that while the leadership of this country has changed, I have not. I am me.
And there’s not a damned thing you can do about that, Mr. Trump. Smarter, more calculating men than you have tried to wreck this country, and have failed. The good news is you’ll fail in America – where you can always pick yourself up by your bootstraps and live another day – you just won’t be President.
Good luck. You’ll need it. See you at the midterms.